An Experiment in Statewide Scenario Analysis: Towards an Even Smarter Growth for Maryland

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Using scenario analysis, this dissertation explores the impacts of alternative development patterns on quality-of-life indicators for the state of Maryland. It compares existing conditions and six alternative scenarios using a set of planning-relevant indicators, such as open space protected, vehicle miles traveled, and proximity to highways and transit. The scenarios are - 1) extension of past trends, 2) build-out of local government zoning, 3) a regional vision developed through representative, participatory process, and three rule-based experimental scenarios (4, 5 and 6) developed through a land use allocation model.

This experiment in scenario analysis adds to the literature in two respects. First, it offers a rare experiment in scenario analysis at the statewide level. In that respect, it offers new insights concerning the influence of geographic unit of analysis, methods of aggregation, and the choice of performance indicators. Second, it offers new insights into the performance of alternative state-level land use policies. It shows, for example, that by most measures of performance land use planning by local government yields the poorest outcomes. The smart growth strategy in which growth is contained in state approved Priority Funding Areas yield better outcomes. Even better outcomes are possible, however, by containing growth in urban corridors, an urban core diamond, or as recommended by the public in a "Reality Check" exercise. Whether there is sufficient political support to implement these better performing outcomes, however, remains uncertain.